By Leanne MacDonald, Spiritual Transformation Coach, Author, and Founder of The Everyday Goddess Revolution.
Do you believe that you are a good parent?
Or do you beat yourself up over how you ‘think’ you should be? I did this for years; I was that mother with serious comparisonitis.
How did other parents manage to look so well turned out, how did their kids look so balanced and happy, how did their facebook page look like a scene from Disney land with rainbows and unicorns.
Was I doing enough? Was I good enough? How could I do better?
Attending mother and child groups was like having my eyeballs removed. It was painful. Is your child doing this, and that and the other? Can your child juggle while singing the national anthem? Does your child eat quinoa with butternut squash and drink chamomile tea? Does your child speak five languages and whistle twinkle twinkle little star backwards in the dark?!
Ok, I exaggerate but the intensity of the questions and story shares hit me like a ton of bricks. No, my children cannot do all these things. So, what the hell does that mean about me?
That ‘what the hell does that mean about me’ question became a common one. When ever I felt like I was lacking in some kind of parenting way it always cropped up. The answer to that being reinforced time and time again. You are not a good parent.
If you are not able to be, do, have, say, behave in a certain way – you are not a good enough parent. I honestly did not believe in myself for a long time. My intention was there to provide the best experience ever for my two younger children but whatever I did was always viewed through this lens of – you are not a good enough parent.
I could have built a matchstick model of the Taj Mahal and still not been good enough, in fact whatever I did as a parent was just not good enough.
I had read the books, I had watched the you tube videos, I had signed up to courses, I had attended seminars, I had even completed a child psychology diploma and every action I made as a parent I always viewed in the same way – I am not good enough.
It honestly did not occur to me that I could see myself in another light. I really thought that the feelings I had about my parenting skills were true, factual and real.
I was at place A (not good parent feelings) and wanted to get to place B (parent of the year vibes). I had read everything that told me that if I read, I would get to place B. But it still felt out of reach.
All this perception was taking place in my own awareness. My mum told me I was doing a great job, strangers in cafes were telling me I was a great mother – but the thoughts I was having about my ability overshadowed that as I believed my own thoughts to be real and doubted the opinions of others.
I danced this merry dance for eight years! Eight years of beating myself up, comparing myself to other parents, wishing and willing to be in a place that I did not feel possible for me. All the while completely ignoring the here and now.
The kids were quite happy with their mum, but I was like ‘hang on kids, a better version is coming’
Looking back, it is mad to think I literally put my life on hold for a quest, a quest to be a better parent, instead of just being a parent.
I was parenting of course, an innate part of me showed up everyday to be a parent, while my mind engaged in constant chatter about my ability – my inner parent just parented, and like a boss!
I was not aware of this inner parent for a long time because I was so focused on my thinking.
This inner parent just knew what to do – always. This inner parent cherished and connected with the children, anticipating their needs. This inner parent knew how to comfort and encourage the children.
This inner parent knew what was important and what was not, and most importantly this inner parent knew how to have fun and embrace life.
This inner parent is what my children experienced.
We all have this inner parent and without exception, we just sometimes cannot hear it because of the noise.
The advice from others, the comparison to others, what our parents think is right, what our partners think is right, what the TV says is right, what the parenting books say is right.
We end up entertaining all these ideas and can end up drowning out the lovely little voice of our inner parenting guru saying ‘hey, over here’.
That feeling of ‘you are not good enough’ that grew and grew to a deafening noise, was my personal alarm. It was my inner parent saying get out of your head and back into your heart – all is well.
So, I did! I started to listen to my heart and what felt right for me and my children. I even wrote an inventory of my parenting expectations and worked through the list to understand where they came from.
Did they come from a book, from a conversation, from someone else, from my parents, from my family or did they come from my heart?
This opened a whole new way to see myself as a parent. I was good enough at doing me, and I would always struggle trying to be someone else.
What feels right and works for one parent may not for another. What feels right and works for one child will not for another children.
We are all unique, as are our children, and we all have our own unique needs and there is no one rule fits all when it comes to parenting.
Our family units differ, we differ, our children differ. The only way we can truly be the best parent to our children is to follow what we feel is the right thing for them in the moment.
Once you connect to and trust that inner parent you can never fail, you can never make the wrong choice, you will never need to seek external advice.
You will be guided all the way.
All the time that I was buying into the story of ‘I am not a good enough parent’ I was reinforcing that as a fact and ultimate reality, blocking me from seeing myself in any other way.
How do you see yourself, what statements are you playing on repeat about your ability as a parent? This will act as a lens of how you see all your parenting abilities.
What parenting ideas and rules are you trying to live up to? Are they coming from your heart? If not, where are they coming from?
Really understanding the story that you are creating is key to reconnecting with your inner parenting guru.
Our thoughts are a moving energy, they continue along their journey of flowing in and out, allowing us the opportunity to play with them in the process of creating experiences in life.
They flow in and out without meaning, they are neutral, and we all perceive those neutral thoughts in our own unique way.
That thought of ‘I am not a good enough parent’ did not mean anything about me until I made it mean something about me.
I believed a fleeting thought, which I probably perceived in a state of sleepless nights, to be a fact about me.
Let us explore where you are at right now and how you could look at things from a new and fresh perspective.
- What words would you use to describe your own parenting ability?
- What areas of your parenting ability do you have an issue with or feel you lack on some way?
- What stories are you trying to live up to which would mean you are lacking as a parent?
- Are these stories / beliefs coming from the heart or from ideas you have picked up along the way?
- What is important to you as a parent?
- What areas do you have the most conflict with your children?
- Is what you are trying to police something that is important to you or something that you feel you should be imposing as a parent?
- What words would describe the ideal home life / parenting style?
- Why do you feel (if you do) that you are not there yet?
- What is it that you are doing when you do feel that you are there and in that place?
- What parenting ideas and limitations could you let go of because they do not feel right in your heart?
Enjoy getting curious about how you see yourself as a parent!